You’ve tasted garlic roasted, steeped in olive oil, and raw in pesto. Now try the tangy, crisp sensation of garlic pickled in vinegar. If garlic is your favorite seasoning, like it is mine, this way of preparing it might be a revelation for you.
Pickling garlic is simple. The most important ingredient is good quality garlic. Choose garlic that is young and fresh. Some ways to tell if garlic is old are if the cloves are coming apart, there are brown spots, the smell is unpleasant, or if the garlic has begun to sprout. The best place to get good quality garlic is at the farmer’s market or at your favorite trusted supermarket. Generally, garlic is harvested in the fall, so if you’re a gardener, set a few heads aside this year for pickling.
The other important ingredient in pickling garlic is the vinegar. My cousin is a longtime garlic pickler - in fact he has a jar that’s twenty years old, a delicacy! - and he swears by red wine vinegar, so that’s what I recommend. I’ve read that you can also use white wine or cider vinegar, but when I tried using white wine vinegar my garlic turned blue! It’s a chemical reaction of some sort, and apparently the garlic is just fine to eat, but it’s not very appetizing.
For seasoning the pickle, add a little kosher salt or pickling salt and sugar to boost the flavor. The recipe below calls for a couple of sundried tomatoes. You could also try herbs like rosemary, thyme, and tarragon, or spices like peppercorns, star anise, and chile peppers.
Serve the pickled garlic on a cheese platter, or slice it and add to salad, sandwiches, or pasta. Once the garlic has been eaten, use the vinegar for salad dressing or for garnishing soup.
Pickled Garlic and Sundried Tomatoes
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Use 1/2 teaspoon of salt and sugar, respectively, for every cup of vinegar that you pour over the pickles. You can multiply this recipe as many times as you want.
- 1 head fresh garlic
- 1-2 sundried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or pickling salt
- Red wine vinegar to cover
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Sterilize a small glass jar in the water for 1 minute, and then remove with tongs and air dry. Leave the water boiling on the stove.
Break up the garlic cloves, and prepare a bowl of ice water. Drop the cloves in the boiling water for 2 minutes, then strain and immediately chill in the ice water. When cool, pull off the skins. Slice off any brown spots, and place the cloves in the sterilized jar.
Add the sundried tomatoes to the garlic, followed by the sugar and salt. Cover with vinegar to within 1/2-inch of the top of the jar, and seal. Shake up the jar, and store in the refrigerator. The pickles are tasty within 2 days, but will be really flavorful in 2 weeks. When serving, remove portions with a clean spoon. The pickles will last for up to 4 months in the refrigerator.
Louisa Shafia is a cook with a passion for healthy eating. She recently penned Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life, a collection of seasonal recipes and eco-friendly advice on food. To watch her cooking videos, see her recipes, and find out about her cooking classes, go to lucidfood.com.